Mock wedding hopes to kick start RI’s event industry while following COVID-19 guidelines

East Bay

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding and Event Professionals is getting creative specifically to prove a point.

On Tuesday, the coalition hosted a mock wedding to show how they can continue their work while following the state’s coronavirus restrictions.

“A lot of us got butterflies when we woke up this morning,” Coalition spokesperson Luke Wrenchan said.

The mock wedding mimicked a real event, but before it all started, guests and vendors received a rapid BinaxNOW COVID-19 test, waited in their cars and got the results by text.

After getting a negative result, guests attended the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception while wearing a mask and social distancing.

Guests could take their masks off while seated at a table, which is similar to the protocols at restaurants.

There is also a COVID-19 safety officer who will ensure rules are being followed throughout, but especially during the reception, where dancing is not allowed.

“It’s going to allow us to put together really a staple for our entire industry and the correct procedures in being able to make all of this happen,” Wrenchan said.

The coalition partnered with the Rhode Island Commerce to record the mock wedding so it can be given to other venues to show how to host an event safely during a pandemic.

“When it became clear that there was no money, there was not enough money for grants and funding we realized we had to get the weddings going again,” Kate DeCosta of the Newport Experience said.

The mock bride and groom have been dating for over four years and said they felt safe with the precautions.

“What’s most important is you are surrounded by the ones that love you the most and the precautions are there to really make you feel a lot safer,” mock groom Michael Weishaus said.

“It was as real as it could be, it feels like magic and that’s what you need right now,” mock bride Paige Zuver added.

Social gatherings in Rhode Island are currently limited to 15 people.

The coalition is hoping the event held Tuesday will show more people can be together while following the guidelines.

“Event professionals have been through a lot this year and we never expected it to be this long and we just have to keep fighting,” Wrenchan said.

DeCostsa said the next step is connecting with the governor about easing restrictions for catered events to the same restrictions restaurants have in place.

Her hope is this training video will help make those changes by March.

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